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How to Use the Raspberry Pi Imager’s Advanced Options

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The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer with diverse applications. While it’s meant to be easy to set up and use, many people still find the process a bit challenging.

To this end, the official Raspberry Pi Imager tool makes writing an operating system onto a microSD card to use with your Raspberry Pi super-easy. In addition, Imager has a few advanced options hidden underneath that can be quite useful at times.

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How to Access the Advanced Options in Raspberry Pi Imager

Starting with v1.6, the Raspberry Pi Imager includes advanced options. Unlike other Imager options, which are laid out upfront in the app, these options aren’t as easily accessible; they’re hidden at first. There are two ways to access them:

With a keyboard shortcut. On a Linux or Windows computer, you can do this by opening the Imager app and pressing the Ctrl + Shift + X keyboard shortcut. Meanwhile, if you’re on a Mac, use Command + Shift + X. Alternatively, if you select Choose OS from Imager’s main menu and then select one, a gear icon will appear at the bottom right; click this to open the advanced options.

Raspberry Pi Imager advanced options screen

What Advanced Options Does Imager Offer?

When you bring up the Advanced options window, you’ll see a bunch of settings to play with. Here’s a quick overview of these options and how to use them.

1. Set Hostname

setting hostname in Imager

A hostname is an identifier for your Raspberry Pi. It determines how your device appears on the network. Tick the checkbox for Set hostname, tap on the text field, and give a unique name to your Pi in place of the default raspberrypi.

2. Enable SSH

enabling SSH in Raspberry Pi Imager

SSH or Secure Shell allows you to remotely access your Raspberry Pi through a terminal on another device over an unsecured network. It’s especially useful when you need to work on a Raspberry Pi in a headless installation.

Tick the Enable SSH checkbox and make sure the Use password authentication radio button is selected. Now, type in your preferred username in the Username field and a strong password in the Password field.

Alternatively, you can use public-key authentication, in which case you’ll need to select Allow public-key authentication only and enter the authorized keys for your computer. To generate the latter, enter the command ssh-keygen in a Terminal; press Enter to skip renaming the files, add an optional passphrase, then copy the contents of the public key file—id_rsa.pub by default—into the field in Imager.

3. Configure Wireless LAN

setting up wireless LAN in Imager

A Raspberry Pi requires an internet connection to install programs, browse the internet, and perform several other operations. Although you can configure this later, Imager lets you do it beforehand, so that your Pi automatically connects to your network when you boot it the first time.

To do this, enable the option by ticking the Configure wireless LAN checkbox. Then, enter the SSID (network name) and the password of your Wi-Fi connection. Finally, use the Wireless LAN country dropdown and select your region.

4. Set Locale Settings

configuring locale settings from Imager's advanced options screen

Locale settings are parameters that define various country-specific preferences. In Imager, you can use them to set your time zone and keyboard layout.

Start by ticking the Set locale settings checkbox. After this, use the Time zone and Keyboard layout dropdown buttons to set them based on your region.

Save the Settings

Finally, when you’ve configured the advanced options in Imager, you need to save them. To do this, scroll to the top of the page, hit the Image customization options dropdown box, and select:

for this session only: If you want to apply the changes for the current session only, or… to always use: If you wish to use the same configuration settings for every subsequent writing process going forward

When done with the advance options, scroll to the bottom and hit the SAVE button.

saving preferences for Imager's advanced options

Other settings

Besides configuration options, the Raspberry Pi Imager advanced options window gives you a few settings. It calls them “persistent settings”, and these include:

Play sound when finished: It plays a notification sound to alert you when Imager finishes writing the OS to your microSD card. Eject media when finished: As the name implies, this option automatically ejects the microSD card as soon as the OS is written to it. Enable telemetry: By default, every time you use the Imager tool, it sends some of your data—known as telemetry, for the purpose of diagnostics and feedback—to the Raspberry Pi website to create a statistics page. If you feel this violates your privacy, you can uncheck the Enable telemetry option to stop Imager from collecting your data going forward.

Rspberry Pi Imager persistent settings

Get More Out of Raspberry Pi Imager With Advanced Options

Raspberry Pi Imager is an invaluable tool for those actively into Raspberry Pi project development. It makes the whole process of installing an OS a lot more seamless.

Thanks to the advanced options covered here, you can extract even more out of the tool and get basic configurations on your Raspberry Pi done beforehand. That way, it’s up and running as soon as it’s loaded with the OS, and you won’t have to go through the manual setup process later.

If you like this idea, there are more ways to pre-configure your Raspberry Pi before booting.

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